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Rates set to rise as Government cuts continue to bite

COUNCILtax will go up  again for ratepayers in Melksham town and Melksham Without in April.

Both councils, as well as Wiltshire Council, will raise their taxes at the beginning of the 2017/18 financial year.

Band D homeowners, which is used as a national measure of average, will pay an extra £20.40 to the town council in Melksham next year, and those in Melksham Without will pay £1.25 more to the parish.

Based on the cost to a Band D property Melksham Town Council’s rates will rise by 21% (£95.09 per year to £115.49) and Melksham Without’s by 1.8% (£68.94 to £70.19).

Wiltshire Council will raise its yearly precept for a Band D household from £1,271.20 to £1,334.63 – an 8.25% increase.

Local councillors have said it’s the inevitable result of Government cuts to its support for local government.

Melksham Town Council’s budget has increased by 39% from £432,020 to £600,115 but some of the increase will be absorbed by a change in the parish boundaries, which will see 733 houses move into the town from Melksham Without.

Melksham town clerk Stephen Gray said, “This increase reflects the current economic climate which has seen Wiltshire Council declare its intention to withdraw from, or reduce its delivery of a variety of community services given the lack of available funding.”

Steve added that the council ‘regrets the need to increase’ the ‘burden’ of tax, but said money would also be needed to refurbish the Assembly Hall.

The boundary change means homes in Melksham Without will pay more tax next year even though the council’s budget has dropped 19% from £221,000 to £178,000.

Parish clerk Teresa Strange said, “The council agreed that although there was a loss of income from the movement of 733 houses out of the parish, it had not reduced its liabilities in any way and therefore there would have to be an increase just to  reach a standstill position.

“The council has taken on a lot of additional responsibility in the last year, including Wiltshire Council play areas, cleaning of bus shelters, supporting public toilets in town and the decision to take on the former George Ward playing fields, and had been restrained in its planned expenditure for 2017/18.”

The increases mean Melksham town’s yearly Band D rates have risen by £27.67 since 2015, and Melksham Without’s by £16.87.

See full press releases from the councils on pages 20